Alan Taylor's Terminator: Genisys is a familiar, yet not as bad as you'd expect sequel that calls back to the original two films a little too much. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the clear standout here, delivering yet another memorable T-800 performance, while the action remains heavy, the plot light and timeline all over the place.
Alan Taylor‘s Terminator: Genisys is an interesting Terminator sequel, balancing between being completely pointless yet sometimes entertaining as Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his roots as the killer robot sent back in time from the future. Genisys may not even come close to the original two films in terms of quality and creativity, but it definitely beats out Salvation as the fourth best in the series, which I know is still not saying very much.
In the near future a self-aware computer operating system named Skynet goes online and wipes out the entire world, with nothing but a small resistance lead by John Connor (Jason Clarke) to keep the robots known as Terminators from destroying the planet.
In the original film both a machine and a human were sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before she could give birth to her son John. The 1984 film The Terminator follows the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as it hunts Sarah, while Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) attempts to protect her.
Terminator: Genisys sort of takes a short cut, erasing and changing the past which would have been the basis of the first two films, while completely ignoring the third and fourth films and the shortly-lived TV show.
Genisys starts out in a very familiar place, basically remaking the original film for twenty minutes, with minor tweaks and changes.
And then things get weird as timelines alter and change, making way for a new Terminator film in a franchise that should have stopped after number two.
Genisys calls back to the first two films too often and it does so in a way that’s both sometimes interesting, but mostly lazy filmmaking. It’s like the creators of this film have seen the original two films, but didn’t quite understand what made them feel so special and timeless, thus creating something that’s similar but completely different.
We’ve seen a bulk of Genisys before and we’ve seen it done much better, which makes it feel lazy and pointless and like your typical watered down cash grab at a thirty-year-old franchise.
The general plot makes little sense, while messy concepts get juggled around fast enough to hope that you’re not paying attention too closely.
The only redeemable trait here is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He brings a lot of fun energy to a character that we’ve all seen him play several times before, yet he feels like the freshest character on screen when compared to the horribly dull and wooden Jai Courtney or the under-utilized Jason Clarke.
Clarke’s main problem isn’t his performance, but his character. John Connor is thrown all over this film in forceful ways and Genisys toys with some neat ideas in a poor fashion, resulting in the character clocking in with minimal importance.
Emilia Clarke‘s Sarah Connor isn’t nearly as strong as Linda Hamilton‘s anchored and iconic turn as the helpless young woman turned complete bad ass. Clarke tries and tries to nail down the mannerisms, but she struggles with forming a backbone and turning Sarah into something special.
These versions of Sarah, John and Kyle are watered down interpretations of what someone who wasn’t paying attention while watching the first two films thought that these characters were.
The spotty CGI doesn’t help the film edge out the competition in the action department either, despite moving along rather quickly.
J.K. Simmons gives the film a good dose of comedic relief, while Schwarzenegger switches off between serious and goofy Terminator in excellent on-point fashion.
Director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) shouldn’t be blamed for most of the mess, because Genisys‘ problems seem rooted in the script and the general lack of needing to exist. The Terminator films haven’t exactly been known to follow a timeline that makes much sense, but at least they stayed true to their own predetermined rules, while Genisys just sort of jumps around time carelessly and sometimes even pointlessly just because it can and because someone who had the power to bring this franchise back from the dead must’ve assumed that Terminator fans simply want time-traveling robots and not much of anything else.
Terminator: Genisys offers up new ideas and concepts for longtime fans, while also trying to remake the first two films for a kid-friendly audience in the dumbest of ways possible.
That being said — it’s still semi-enjoyable and gets by on Schwarzenegger’s commitment to the role and the franchise as a whole. The action rarely wows, but occasionally sparks in ways that make me wish that they would’ve done this one right and completely blown Rise of the Machines and Salvation out of the water.
But Genisys only gets credit for being better than Salvation, while still remaining below Rise of the Machines and nowhere in the same league as the first two films. That’s not saying a whole lot, but the film could’ve been much worse.
Also, the post-credits sequence only hurts the film’s credibility and presents more time for eye-rolling.